But here's something you may not have known. Ehnes is also a skilled
pianist. He once performed a piano concerto for half a concert, and a
violin concerto for the other half. The man is full of surprises. Since
Ehnes shares Mozart's birthday, he celebrated his own 30th birthday and
Mozart's 250th by creating an orchestra with his friends. They recorded
all the Mozart Violin Concertos.
Tonight, May 23, Ehnes is conducting and performing with the
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. The concert is sold out but CBC will be
there to record the music and SCENE will keep you posted on the future
Listen to Ehnes play the Largo from Bach's Sonata No. 3 in C, BWV 1005.
We convinced Ehnes to step down from the podium to tell us what else we don't know about him, and his work.
Q: If you weren't a musician, what would your profession be and why? A: I know this makes me sound like a nine-year-old, but I would have wanted to be either a professional baseball player or an astronaut. Not the easiest professions to break into.
A young James Ehnes (James Ehnes)
Q: What are three things people may not know about James Ehnes? A: 1. I have been reprimanded at four different major league ballparks for cheering too loudly for the home team. 2. I once worked for Weird Al Yankovic. For a day. 3. At one point I knew the names of every Apollo astronaut, and the crews for every mission, but don't quiz me now.
Q: In what ways are you drawn to conducting and how do you feel on the podium, rather than beside it? A: The draw of conducting for me is the repertoire; the orchestral repertoire is so vast and rich, and it is a joy being able to shape and perform this music. I do miss the actual physical part of playing, though. With conducting, you really aren't making any music yourself, it's all coming from other people. There's a certain disconnect there. Q: How do you spend your time when you return to your hometown of Brandon, Manitoba? A: Visiting with friends. My parents have moved out of the province, so the time I used to spend with my family I now spend trying to track down old friends from school days.
Q: What music is on your iPod?
A: Lots of music is on my iPod. I have probably 65-75 per cent of the standard classical repertoire, everything from Bach to John Adams, along with a small smattering of other stuff. No popular music past about 1985.
James Ehnes conducting the MCO (Greg Boboski)
Q: You and your wife recently celebrated the birth of your first child. How has it changed you? A: Caroline was born in March, and my wife and I are absolutely thrilled. Parents always told me how the feeling of love for a child is indescribable, and I certainly agree. I feel that my life is 1,000 times richer than before. Q: Now that you have a child, what do you do to relax and de-stress? A: Same as before - watching baseball and hockey on TV!
Q: How else has your life changed since baby's arrival? A: I suppose my sleep patterns are a bit different.... Fortunately, we have been able to travel together a bit, so I'm hopeful that we can all be together on the road a good amount in future years. It certainly makes the travel different, but it's much more fun. Q: Tell us about the James Ehnes Quartet. A: It's a joy. It's with three of my closest friends and favourite musicians, Amy Schwartz Moretti, Richard O'Neill and Robert deMaine. We only play about a dozen concerts a year, and all of us are busy with the other parts of our lives, so everything we do is because we really want to do it. It's a wonderful way to explore some of the greatest musical masterpieces and spend time with some of my favourite people.